Friday, March 25, 2011

Traveling with an Infant: Up in the Air

So we are finally back home safe in Chicago after 5 glorious days in the Florida sunshine!
Our travels were pretty smooth thanks to all of the helpful tips from my readers!
G and I on the Mote Aquarium boat tour of Sarasota Bay

So here's what worked for us on the plane:

1. Making sure everyone knew I was flying with an infant (even changing my reservation online before going to the airport to: "infant in arms").  Gate agents, TSA and flight attendants were mostly quite helpful once they could see I had a baby.

2. We took our snap 'n go stroller and car seat thru security and gate checked both.  (You do not need to pay for this, thank God!) Both went through security on the belt and then upon arrival at the gate you'll need to get gate tags for both.

3. I carried Gunnar through security after getting everything on the belt. I wore easy slip on shoes and took these off before getting Gunnar out of the car seat/stroller.  (Holding Gunnar helped me evade the scary new body scanner they had at the Sarasota airport...they let us walk through the normal metal detector) In Chicago TSA agents were helpful in getting the stroller and car seat up on the belt.

4. When boarding the plane, I put Gunnar in the baby bjorn so I could have my arms free to push the stroller down the ramp, put my bags under and above the seat, etc.

5. Once on the plane I got myself situated before buckling up. Taking off the baby bjorn (for some reason you're not allowed to wear them when the plane departs), grabbing my nursing cover (and putting it on), getting toys, burp cloth and my ipod out and putting them in the pocket in front of me.

6. The most universal advice I got was to make sure G was sucking on something when the plane ascended and descended.  This was a problem with my first flight.  Gunnar doesn't take a pacifier or a bottle so really my only option was to breastfeed.  But G had a major stomach ache on our first flight and was very fussy even before the plane left the ground.  I tried to nurse him but he kept pulling off. So out of desperation I offered him my fingers and he sucked away...stopped fussing and had no problem.  I was able to successfully nurse Gunnar for take off and landing on two flights, but he slept through one landing without a problem.  So I guess I'd say to not stress out about the sucking. Try to get them to do it...but if they're not screaming, obviously they're not in pain.

7. Changing G on the plane happened twice. The first time was very easy thanks to the fold down changing table behind the toilet. I just brought back a diaper, wipes, changing pad and a change of clothes, not the whole diaper bag.  The second time was MUCH more challenging. There was no changing table. So I had to put down the lid on the toilet and change G on top of that...which was really awkward because his poor head was tilted far back and I was so scared he was going to roll off on either side. I also found it really disgusting to put him on top of the I laid down a ton of paper towels before putting him down and then scrubbed him down with hand sanitizer afterward.

8. Taking refreshments is challenging if you don't have someone helping you.  If you can chug water I suggest just asking for water without ice and chugging it...because you won't have room to put the tray down and you don't want to have to deal with holding a cup of ice.  It was also suggested to bring your own water bottle that clips onto your diaper bag (I had this and it was handy!).

9. Have a change of clothes for you and baby in your carry on. Gunnar had 2 blowouts on the that was very necessary. And G peed on my pants while I was changing him on the Thank God I brought an extra pair of pants and a shirt with me!

So here is some great advice I wish I'd tried:

1. A boppy. I wasn't sure how I would use it...but once I was on the plane I could think of a ton of reasons why it would help.  Especially when G had a tummy ache.  (but laying him on a blanket on my lap on his tummy worked out just fine).

2. Disposable changing pads for the plane bathrooms. This was a great suggestion...I wish I had some...yeah the bathrooms are gross.

3. Many suggested talking to the gate agent about changing seats so that you could have a seat between you and your travel partner. That would have been sooooo nice. Unfortunately ALL of our planes were completely full. But it's definitely worth a shot. It was also suggested to request seats in the bulkhead (which I was able to do for our first flight) it is nice to have extra room in front of you.

4. doggy bags. This was a fail on my part. I usually carry these in my diaper bag but only had one left (which I used at disney)...I had to put one of G's pooped on outfits in a lunch bag...

SPECIAL THANKS to Sara Brown, Shelly Beissel, Kendra Johnsen, Lisa Murakami, Jenn McCarty, Emily Gunesch and Stephanie Houchens for the detailed responses you sent me!!! You are mommy hero's and my personal life savers!!!

Up Next: Hotel 101

My Aunt Pam is going to a baby shower and she wants to know what are the 5 most useful things a new mom needs when she gets home? What do you all think? Here's what I said:

1. Boppy 
2. a good swaddle  
3. TONS of breast pads!!! 
4. Lots of good nursing bra's and tanks 
5. a wrap (like my hoppediz) or a moby or Ergo or Mai Tai.


  1. You're welcome. Glad to help. I'll have to keep your advice in mind come next month. Even though I've traveled with Chloe, I have not traveled alone with her.

  2. I totally forgot about the beverage situation. Much worse when the child is old enough to want his own, then you have two to deal with and no place to set them. Or wants to grab the drink of the unsuspecting person next to you. :-)

    Glad you had a good time and made it through.